When Do Politics Become Treason?
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman noted recently
[T]he scorched-earth opposition of Republicans, who have done everything they can to get in his way — and who now, having blocked the president’s policies, hope to win the White House by claiming that his policies have failed.
Krugman noted that federal housing loan debt relief had been blocked by a bureaucrat, Edward Marco.
The idea is that if homeowners with loans from the two big federal housing finance agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were permitted to do loan restructuring, homeowners would have more money, would buy more goods and the economy would improve. And some of the economic pain might be eased.
But Marco refuses to allow restructuring of loans. He doesn’t have a very good explanation as to why he won’t. His feeble excuses are rebutted by his own staff. You’d think a mid-level manager would obey the directions of his boss, the Secretary of the Treasury. In the case of Ed Marco, you’d be wrong. Mr. Marco is a Republican appointee. He holds office as an interim manager because the Republicans in the U.S. Senate have refused to allow him to be replaced. You can only wonder what his reward will be if The Mitt is elected President, in part because Ed Marco helped extend the recession.
When does “just politics” become treason? When does a political party’s attempts to control the White House or Congress by making intentionally bad decisions cross the line? Should there be a limit on the permissible tactics to get and keep power? We throw Olympians out for this kind of behavior.
The damage the extended recession has done to state and municipal governments will take a long time to repair. There are more municipal bankruptcies now than at any time since the Great Depression. At least 27 municipalities have filed bankruptcy since 2010. Governing Magazine has a nice, if depressing, map. The number would be much higher, WC suspects, but many states, like Alaska, require legislative approval before a municipality – a city, county or borough – can file Chapter 9. Dozens more municipalities are teetering on the edge.
So if as a political party have adopted tactics that have caused millions of people to be unemployed, bankrupted municipalities and stalled or even cratered any recovery of the housing industry; if you have done all that to increase the chances your presidential candidate will win. Does that constitute treason? Is there some line that can be crossed?
Okay. It’s probably not treason in the technical sense. 18 U.S.C. §2831 defines “treason” as “whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.” Levying political war against the President and against the national economy may be heinous but probably not treasonous.